Friday, December 6, 2013

December 6: Saint Nicholas of Myra


St. Nicholas
Photo by Ralph Hammann

History

Saint Nicholas was not a perfect man. Once he lost his temper and punched another bishop right in the nose! However, he did many wonderful things. He inherited quite a bit of money from his parents, and he was quite generous. Once, there was a man who had three daughters and couldn’t afford for them to get married. Late at night, Nicholas tossed a bag of coins through the window (or maybe down the chimney, as some legends say) and then the oldest girl was able to get married. He did it again for the second daughter and then the third. The last time, the father was watching and caught Saint Nicholas in the act so he could thank him.

Activity


Our 2013 shoes for neighbors
(We make them for  several days before the
6th because we have so many kid neighbors!)
In some of the legends about Saint Nicholas providing for the three sisters who wanted to get married, the little bags of gold coins land in their shoes or stockings. To this day in many countries, children put their shoes by their beds the night before Saint Nicholas’ feast day, and when they wake up, they find chocolate coins wrapped in golden foil. Today, use scrapbook paper and a pattern to create your own paper shoes, and fill them with chocolate coins. Here are the patterns I use, which hold five chocolate coins. Here's another that's a bit bigger (and likely easier to fill). My children like to make these for neighbors and sneak over to secretly deposit them on their front porches, so we make quite a few of them. 

We always hang our stockings the night before (Dec. 5) and the children awake to find notes in their stocking that identify the gifts they have received from God (honesty, empathy, creativity, courage, etc.) and how they have used those gifts in the past year, plus a word of advice on how to grow in the coming year. What traditions are right for your family on this special day?

Saint Nicholas, pray for us!

More reading for parents: